Monday, December 21, 2009

The Food Box Chronicles

I have borrowed the idea for this post from one of my favourite bloggers, Carrie, over at Wee Two Three. If you are looking for meal inspiration, craft ideas or just some some adorable kids to admire, this is the place to go.

Several years ago (in another time and place), I had regular delivery of fruits and vegetables to my home. I found this a fantastic way to get more fruits and veggies in my diet, but never knew what to do with everything. I made a lot of salads and ate a lot of veggie sticks, but also threw a lot away. I discontinued this delivery when I moved and didn't really think of it again until I saw this post and was motivated to order a food box from Share Organics. I now use my food box as the inspiration for meals rather than a grocery top-up. This has worked out so well that I decided to chronicle some of my creations here.

The contents of my most recent box:

It contained lettuce, swiss chard, leeks, potatoes, satsumas, apples, pears, roasted hazelnuts, pea shoots and a pomegranate. Everything from Share is organic and most of it is local.

The first thing I made was Potato Leek Soup with the leeks and potatoes. I also made several salads with the lettuce and pea shoots and used the swiss chard to make Curried Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew:

I much preferred the Potato Leek Soup, but they were both good. After the soups, I used the apples and pears to make Apple Pear Sauce. Delish!

I used some of the sauce in my weekly "kitchen sink" muffins:

And last, but not least, I used the roasted hazelnuts and satsumas to make Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Biscotti (replacing the almond extract with orange extract and adding a couple of spoonfuls of grated satsuma rind). These turned out so fantastic that I even gave some away for Christmas gifts.

I am on a break from my food box while I am away over the holidays, but can't wait to see what the next box brings. Mmmm!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

SWAK and Unwrap

I have to admit, I've lost interest in the Daring Bakers. I love baking, but it is hard to bake on someone else's agenda. I don't really want to put a lot of effort into making food I don't really want! I haven't lost interest in cupcakes though. Here is my latest creation. I call them "SWAK Babycakes" as they remind me of Terry's Chocolate Oranges ("whack and unwrap"). These cupcakes have dense brownie bottoms and are topped with orange flavored buttercream. Delish!

PS I just checked out the Daring Bakers challenge for October and it was French Macarons . . . maybe I will have to try those out after all!

How do you like your beets?

Despite appearances, these are burgers are Botanical:

They are vegan, containing a whole variety of veggies along with rice and nuts. They are delicious and the recipe comes from the Rebar Cookbook.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Daring Bakers June Challenge - The Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

So, during this challenge I learned that so much butter can leech out of pie shell that you can (almost) start a grease fire! Who knew? Due to this somewhat unsettling fact, my tart was not fully cooked. Despite it all, I think it turned out pretty well.

Here is the (butter filled) shell:

With my homemade rhubarb jam filling:

And some (slightly gross looking) Frangipane:

Ahh! What happened?

Despite it all, my Rhubarb Bakewell Tart was pretty tasty. The proof is in the pudding:

Thankyou to Jasmine and Annemarie for hosting this challenge.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Daring Cooks June Challenge - Potstickers

This month’s Daring Cooks Challenge was Potstickers/Goyza and was brought to us by Jen. I am not a fan of pork or shrimp or cabbage (yes, I know, I am picky) so I developed my own vegetarian version and made several attempts.

First, I made a root vegetable mixture in whole wheat wrappers. The beets made everything purple and the whole wheat flour was too chewy.

I tried again with white flour. Much better, but the filling still wasn't my cup of tea so made a pesto and white bean filling. Mmmmm!

I loved this version although I found the mixture too wet for the water and flour based potsticker wrappers - they tended to leak a bit (see above). To compensate for this, I switched to a egg and flour based pasta. So, although it was not my intent, my vegetarian potstickers eventually morphed into lovely Pesto and White Bean Tortellini! Perfect! I forgot to take a picture of my final version, but maybe next time!

It's Strawberry Season!

Mmmm. I love berries. I think that raspberries are my favourite, but I was recently reminded of the bliss of a perfectly ripe strawberry when I bought some from a local orchard. I don't know when I last had a decent strawberry, but these berries reminded me of the "fake" strawberry flavour in lifesavers.

I just HAD to capture the strawberry goodness I discovered, so I made jam. Two batches. I made a batch of uncooked freezer jam and a batch of traditional pectin free jam. They are both delicious.

The traditional jam (front) tastes very much that: sweet, sticky, traditional jam. The non cooked freezer jam (back) tastes like perfectly ripe strawberries. I can't decide which one I like best. My cat, Ollie, was convinced that he also likes jam. I am not so sure how jam fits in with an "obligate carnivore" diet, but who am I to question good taste?

I also recently made my Strawberry Fields Forever Cupcakes. I make them with frozen strawberries, but I bet they'd be even better with local fresh berries. I might have to test that theory :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daring Bakers April Challenge - Cheesecake

It's Daring Baker time!  The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I try and stay away from all things dairy and decided to make my cheesecake using this tofu cheesecake recipe.  As my "creative twist", I replaced the lemon juice in the recipe with espresso and added about a quarter cup of cocoa powder.  I used crushed chocolate wafers for the crust.  It didn't turn out tooooo badly, but no matter how much I wish and pray for tofu to magically turn into things it is not (i.e. cream cheese), it just doesn't.  Next time I make cheesecake I think I will splurge on the dairy!

Mocha Cheese(tofu)cake

Thank you to JennyBakes for hosting the April challenge!

Monday, April 13, 2009

My "Spa at Home" Weekend

I took five days off for the Easter weekend.  I didn't have anything special planned, but felt like I needed a "breather" from work.  As a single girl with only a cat for distraction, I find that work plays too heavy of a role in my life.   So, as I do not have the funds for a vacation or trip to the spa, I decided to treat myself right this weekend with lots of sleeping, yoga, walks on the beach and healthy eating. My weekend wasn't quiet as relaxing as I'd hoped (it never is), but I did do lots of sleeping and followed my "cleansing" eating plan.  I am already a vegetarian, but I also omitted flour, sugar, dairy and eggs from my diet over the long weekend and plan to do so for a few more days.  Here is a sampling of what I made (and ate!).

I started off each morning with a bowl of oatmeal and berries, but replaced my usual brown sugar with agave nectar.  Mmmm.

My first new recipe was Vegveeta Cheese Dip.  Despite the name and colour, this dip has a very small resemblance to cheese although it is a nice warm and creamy dip.  

For a treat, I made Peanut Butter Granola Bars.  I replaced the butter this recipe called for with coconut oil and replaced the marshmallows with extra peanut butter and some honey.  They are very dense and much more crumbly than regular granola bars, but still delicious!

Another meal I made was Warm Potato Spinach Salad with Pine Nut Dressing.  I omitted the olives and peppers this recipe called for and added strawberries instead.  This recipe is wonderful and I will be adding it to my repertoire.  

I also made one of my favourites, Creamy Broccoli Soup.  I originally got this recipe from O Magazine, but now just make it from memory (I think!).  All it contains is an onion, a potato, broccoli and vegetable stock.  I sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on top.  

I am most proud of my final recipe for the weekend.  This is my own "recipe" so I will call them "Granola Girl Muffins".  Now, I rarely use a recipe when baking muffins so I will probably never be able to replicate these, but considering that I thought I would end up with sugar-dairy-wheat-egg free rocks, I think they are fantastic.  I used a combination of oat bran and spelt flour for the "flour", honey for "sugar", arrowroot powder and a banana for the "egg" and soy milk as the liquid.  They also contain peanut butter and a cup of crumbles left over from my granola bars (above).  They turned out moist and delicious!

My long weekend of "relaxation" has now come to an end.  I wish I could have another 5 days off, but rather than dwell on that, I am off to take a bubble bath!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring has sprung!

I didn't participate in the Daring Barkers March challenge as I am not a huge lasagna fan.  However, I did make these little cuties instead:

These are my Spring Blossom Babycakes - basic chocolate cake with vanilla icing tinted in spring pastels.  I think they are adorable :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Snuggle Bug

I've adopted a kitty-cat!  Introducing "Oliver Twist": 

Ollie is my first cat.  Now, I do not actually consider myself a cat person (although I am an animal lover, in general) but, as I am not allowed dogs in my apartment and was desperate for a pet, I searched out a breed of "puppy-cats".  Ollie is a Bicolour Blue Lynx Ragdoll and I think he is pretty perfect.  Ragdolls are known for their laid back and puppyish approach to life so, even though I feel a wee bit guilty for not adopting through the SPCA (the humane society where I volunteer), I feel like I got the right cat for me (which is really the most important thing in committing to a pet, right?).  

I did compromise by adopting a retired breeding cat rather than a kitten so, at the ripe age of two, Ollie is just starting to get used to typical pet life.  We had a bit of a rough start with some crying and howling (on both of our parts), but after two months together, Ollie is showing his true Ragdoll personality.  He loves to cuddle and play fetch and purrs non-stop. Our vet even confirmed that he is a super star on our last visit (male breeding cats do not always make good pets).  Phew!

Adopting a cat was a bit of a leap of faith for me, but I think it's going to work out well for both of us.  Now, if only we can get the shedding under control ;)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers February Challenge - The Chocolate Valentino

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.  We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

The Chocolate Valentino is my idea of a perfect desert (chocolate + more chocolate) so I was thrilled to have this challenge!  

Rather than preparing ice cream (I am an ice cream addict and it is best not to have it around), I added a layer of seedless raspberry jam to the cake and topped it off with a chocolate ganache.  I let the ganache cool too much before adding so I didn't get the smooth effect I was hoping for.  Despite this, I thought the cake was fantastic and I would definitely make it again!

The Chocolate Valentino


Thank you to Wendy and Dharm for hosting the February challenge and adding to my chocolate recipe repertoire!  

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Daring Bakers January Challenge - Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

As I am suffering from a post-Christmas sugar high, I elected to prepare "Savory Tuiles" from Thomas Keller's "The French Laundry Cookbook."  I served the tuiles with Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Mint Dressing (and replaced the raisins this recipe called for with dried cherries).  I've decided that Tulies aren't quiet my cup of tea, but I think that their buttery crunch went well with the zippy mint and garlic dressing in this salad.

Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Mint Dressing and Savory Tuiles.

Thank you to Baking Soda and Zorra for hosting this challenge.

Sweet Jesse Babycakes

These are some cupcakes I made for a recent baby shower.  They are vanilla cupcakes with blue tinted vanilla icing and I used Martha Stewart Mix-and-Match Cupcakes for both recipies.  My swirly icing didn't turn out quite as expected, but it is hard to go too wrong with cupcakes!